Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in Queensland women
1 August 2017

Queensland researchers have discovered a new way to target a rare form of breast cancer, giving hope for improved treatment options.  

A University of Queensland study funded by Cancer Council Queensland found that some breast cancer patients could benefit from the new treatment.

Professor Gregory Monteith from UQ School of Pharmacy and Mater Research Institute-UQ said the recent discovery would pave the way for more targeted research and treatments for breast cancer patients.

“The study found that a cellular channel, TRPV4, which acts as a sensor in normal cells, is at a much higher level in some breast cancer cases,” Professor Monteith said.

“This includes those cases that do not respond to most targeted therapies.

“We found that instead of switching off the protein to stop the breast cancer growing or metastasising, we can activate it further to cause the death of breast cancer cells.

“This work provides a new dimension into how we might be able to treat some types of breast cancers in future.

“This form of treatment may also complement other treatment options, and could represent a way to make current drugs more effective.”

Cancer Council Queensland chief executive Ms Chris McMillan said the breakthrough was promising and had the potential to save lives.

“In Queensland, around 3300 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and sadly around 550 die from the disease,” Ms McMillan said.

“Some women have a poorer prognosis due to lack of effective therapies available for their specific breast cancer.

“This research worked to identify potential new drug targets for breast cancer that act by changing the level of calcium inside breast cancer cells to stop their growth.

“While more research is still needed to further investigate these options, the ground-breaking discovery gives much-needed hope to breast cancer patients.”

Ms McMillan said breast cancer was the most common form of cancer diagnosed in Queensland women.

“One in eight Queensland women will be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 85,” Ms McMillan said.

“Through lifesaving research studies like these, we can continue to ensure that those affected have the best possible chance of successfully treating, and surviving, a diagnosis.”

The research has been published in the journal Oncogene.

Media: Greg Monteith, gregm@uq.edu.au, 0431171946; HaBS Media, habs.media@uq.edu.au.